Talks with out-of-contract stars begin as Sheffield United look to nail down a European place

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Sheffield United will begin the process of asking those players whose contracts expire later this month to confirm they are prepared to take part in the club’s remaining games of the season, as the Premier League continues to explore the possibility of lifting its fixture suspension in June.

With the likes of Phil Jagielka, Leon Clarke and Kieron Freeman set to become free agents on May 30, a decision taken at Monday’s summit meeting of PL members allowing deals to be extended means Bramall Lane’s hierarchy can now officially open talks with their representatives aimed at ensuring they are available for selection over the summer.

United were seventh in the table when English football was placed into lockdown two months ago because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are hopes competition can shortly resume; albeit with matches taking place behind closed doors.

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Developments during the teleconference mean United can now also seek formal clarification that on-loan goalkeeper Dean Henderson will be allowed to complete the 2019/20 campaign with them rather than being summoned back to Manchester United.

Chris Wilder, the United manager, is already known to have sought indications from Jagielka and his two team mates - together with Jack Rodwell - before his squad made a partial return to training a fortnight ago.

“I know, if I asked Jags now, what his response would be,” Wilder said. “He’d tell me of course he’s ready to do that. That’s why you surround yourself with good people.”